John Connolly’s top cultural picks

August 21, 2014, Article by Tom in Books

John Connolly is one of the most accomplished and successful crime fiction authors around, and we’re huge fans of his Charlie Parker novels. But now, writing with his partner Jennifer Ridyard, they have turned to science fiction and have created the rather brilliant Chronicles of the Invaders series. The first part, Conquest, is available in paperback from the 28th of August, so we thought it was the ideal opportunity to sit down with John and find out a few of his cultural highlights. Here are his selections…

Band: This is such a tough one.  Because I’m going to see her in concert in September, Kate Bush would be a big one for me.  Wuthering Heights was the first single that I ever bought.  But I’d also have to include The Blue Nile, as A Walk Across the Rooftops might well be my desert island album, and Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters/ Sun Kil Moon as well.  Oh, and Neil Young.  Right, I’ll stop now.

Artist: There’s a wonderful artist named Neil Shawcross, now resident in Northern Ireland, who I’ve got to know in recent years.  He manages to make oil paintings look like watercolours that have kind of run in the rain.  He’s also been working on a series based around the covers of classic crime novels, and he very kindly did a couple for me this year, including The Maltese Falcon and The Chill.  He’s brilliant.  If I can, I’d also like to mention Rob Ryan, who designed the cover for my novel The Book of Lost Things.  He’s a genius with paper.

Film: Depends upon my mood. I love John Carpenter’s The Thing, and early Laurel & Hardy…

Book: Again, that’s one that changes with my mood.  I think Bleak House by Charles Dickens may be the greatest novel in the English language, but I’d also put The Three Musketeers, Wuthering Heights, and The Good Soldier on my list of favourites.  Oh, and the Jeeves & Wooster stories of P.G. Wodehouse.

Writer: James Lee Burke is the greatest living author of mystery fiction, and I wouldn’t be writing without him.  He’s also the genre’s great poet of landscape.  Ross Macdonald, now deceased, was another important one for me.  He’s the first great psychological novelist that the genre produced.

Drink: My tastes have changes as I’ve grown older.  I can’t really drink beer any more – or certainly not lager; I’m okay with a couple of pints of decent microbrew beer – so I tend to fall back on wine.  My other half is South African, so I’ve fallen for their wines in a big way: Springfield, Meerlust, Thelema, Iona… They all make fabulous wines, and compared to the Americans or the Australians they’re good value.

Places and Holiday destinations: Portland, Maine, where most of my books are set.  I fell in love with it when I first went there to work back in 1991, and when I wanted to give my detective, Charlie Parker, a place to which he could return after trauma, it seemed natural to pick somewhere for which I have an affection.  Galleries, bookstores, great restaurants, movie theaters – it’s kind of perfect.  And it’s by the sea.

Food: Cajun or Thai.  My family ate the blandest of foods when I was growing up, so ever since then I’ve been engaged in a process of reacting against my childhood diet.  My father wouldn’t even eat rice.  My mother once gave him some rice for a change, and he didn’t speak to her for three days.

Team and sport: Liverpool.  I’ve been a fan for about 37 years now.  I still can’t get a season ticket, though.  If anyone from LFC is reading this…

Conquest is a cracking read and was one of Amazon’s Top 10 YA novels for 2013 when the ebook came out last year. It’s not just for YA fans though, so if you’re looking for a new sci fi series it’s well worth checking out. It’s published in paperback on August 28th, and you can order a copy HERE

John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard – Conquest
And follow John and Jennifer on Twitter. They’re cool.